Thursday, March 29, 2007

Creating life, old style

Scientific America is doing an interesting story on experiments delving into the origins of life on Earth.

A Frankensteinesque contraption of glass bulbs and crackling electrodes has produced yet another revelation about the origin of life. The results suggest that Earth's early atmosphere could have produced chemicals necessary for life—contradicting the view that life's building blocks had to come from comets and meteors.

It is an interesting look, as the researches fine tune and modify the experimental enviroment and the hurdles that kept lifes Alpha from ending up as our Omega.

Bada discovered that the reactions were producing chemicals called nitrites, which destroy amino acids as quickly as they form. They were also turning the water acidic—which prevents amino acids from forming. Yet primitive Earth would have contained iron and carbonate minerals that neutralized nitrites and acids. So Bada added chemicals to the experiment to duplicate these functions. When he reran it, he still got the same watery liquid as Miller did in 1983, but this time it was chock-full of amino acids.

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